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How to find a Wii

You probably won't find one of Nintendo's white-hot video game machines before Christmas, but here's what you can do to get one as soon as possible afterwards.

After spending hours driving more than 60 miles Tuesday in search of a Wii, I am pretty much convinced that there are next to none available in retail stores anywhere, nor are any stores likely to be getting more before Christmas.

You never know, of course. A call I made to a Nintendo representative revealed that it's not entirely clear if retailers will be getting more before the holiday. But time and again, salespeople told me that they didn't expect to get any more after receiving shipments last Sunday that quickly sold out.

So what's a Wii hunter to do?

Wouldn't Wii hunters love to see a scene like this, from the Wii's launch event in Los Angeles, in November 2006. Alas, there appears to be no Wiis to be had before Christmas. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

As a Toys "R" Us salesman told me during my stop at one of their stores, one method would be to "Call everywhere in the world, every single day of your life if you really want one."

But if that doesn't work, here's what else you can try.

First, GameStop retailers are having a promotion on Friday in which they will accept paid preorders and will guarantee delivery of a Wii sometime in January.

But this program has gotten enough attention that I was told by one GameStop clerk that you'll probably have to line up to preorder.

You could also try buying one online. eBay, for example, seems to have many of the consoles for sale, though I would tend to doubt at this point that you could get delivery prior to Christmas. But you never know. It's certainly worth checking out the possibilities.

This is what Nintendo recommends:

"Get to know your store managers. Ask them when their shipments come in, so you can be on hand the day they show up."

"Call around. You can increase your odds by checking in with more than one store."

"Try smaller stores in out-of-the-way places. Many different kinds of stores sell video game products, so don't go to the same megamall that everyone else is going to."

"There's no one surefire way to find a Wii. But by teaming up and getting creative with your approach, you're bound to have more success than the people who just go to their local mall and do nothing else."

"If you see one, be sure to grab it!"

This is surely fine advice, and if you follow those suggestions, you'll probably find a Wii eventually, though it may still take you some time. Certainly, try to temper your kids' expectations that there will be a Wii under the tree on Christmas morning, because if you don't have one already, odds are you're not going to find one.

For its part, Nintendo is certainly aware that the shortages of the console are causing consternation among consumers, but it is taking the position that it's doing what it can to address the issue.

"If it were possible to snap our fingers and manufacture millions more, we would do it," Nintendo said in a statement it delivered to me Tuesday. "We're continually putting more and more Wiis into the pipeline, but they all sell through almost instantly. Production has already been boosted more than once, and we are actively increasing the number of systems provided to retailers around the world."

That's all fine and good, but it certainly doesn't put a Wii under your tree. And from my experience, it doesn't look as if much will. The best bet at this point is to accept that you're going to have to wait.

My advice? Keep your tree up, and when you finally find a Wii, wrap it up, put it under the tree, and pretend Christmas has been extended into January. What kid wouldn't love that idea?